TAMA - After another strong performance in one of the best conferences in the state, the West Marshall wrestling team will have a much tougher time staying under the radar.
Trojan coach Lonnie Ferguson said he likes to stay hidden as much as possible but admitted Saturday that it's not easy anymore.
It's not easy because the Trojans sent four wrestlers to the finals, crowned three champions and scored a second-place finish at the North Iowa Cedar League Tournament in Tama.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
South Tama County’s Erik Lux remained undefeated on the season Saturday when he claimed the 170-pound championship at the NICL Tournament in Tama. Lux pinned Denver-Tripoli’s Izaak Shedenhelm (pictured) in the semifinals before topping Hudson’s Luke Huber 9-4 in the championship.
"We knew we would be in contention," Ferguson said. "Everyone wrestled well, and nine of the 10 guys we put in the varsity tournament placed fifth or better."
The Trojans' best finish in the NICL prior to Saturday was last year's third-place tally. Eight West Marshall wrestlers finished in the top four spots of their respective weight classes, which was good enough for 182 points.
"We like to hide, but after so long you just can't hide anymore," Ferguson said. "The league knows how good we are, but there are still some teams out West who don't really think we are that good. We'll keep that to ourselves and just prove it on the mat when the time comes."
NICL Wrestling Tournament
Team Standings - 1. Union 211.5; 2. West Marshall 182; 3. (tie) Aplington-Parkersburg 158.5; 3. (tie) Denver-Tripoli 158.5; 5. South Tama County 151; 6. Dike-New Hartford 124; 7. East Marshall/GMG 118; 8. AGWSR 99; 9. Jesup 78; 10. BCLUW-SH 75; 11. Hudson 59; 12. Wapsie Valley 57; 13. Gladbrook-Reinbeck-North Tama/Grundy Center 24.
106-Andrew Busch (D-T) dec. Logan Johnson (A-P, 10-6; 113-Cole Needham (WM) dec. Ryder Albertsen (U), 6-1; 120-Zach Underhill (EM) pinned Dakota Callan (D-NH), :29; 126-Max Thomsen (U) pinned Shane Poppens (A-P), 1:31; 132-Tad Chapin (D-T) dec. Trevor McLaughlin, 64; 138-Kyle Blocker (WM) major dec. Austin Dengler (U), 11-3; 145-Brandon Sorenson (D-T) major dec. Jacob Holschlag (U), 21-8; 152-Logan Thomsen (U) pinned Tanner Arnold (WM), 2:49; 160-Dale Hilleman dec. Tyler Lutes (BCLUW-SH), 13-6; 170-Erik Lux (STC) dec. Luke Huber (H), 9-4; 182-Chase Shedenhelm (D-T) major dec. Terry Mooty (D-NH), 14-4; 195-Clay Meinders (AGWSR) pinned DeVante Miller (Jesup), 5:25; 220-Deonce Cushinberry (BCLUW-SH) dec. Dalton Vest (STC), 8-6; 285-Brandon McCracken (A-P) dec. Josh Clark (U), 7-4.
Class 2A No. 6 Union ended Denver-Tripoli's run of six straight NICL championships after racking up 211.5 points. The Knights advanced six to the championship match and crowned three champions in winning the team title.
Denver-Tripoli, which is ranked No. 8 in Class 2A, settled for a tie for third with Aplington-Parkersburg as both collected 158.5 points.
Host South Tama County placed fifth in what is expected to be its final year in the NICL. Defending state champion Erik Lux won the title at 170 for the Trojans' only individual championship. They finished just 7.5 points out of third place though with 151.
East Marshall/GMG (118), AGWSR (99), South Hardin-BCLUW (75) and Gladbrook-Reinbeck/North Tama/Grundy Center (24) also competed. East Marshall/GMG and AGWSR came in seventh and eighth, respectively, while the Storm finished 10th and GRNT-GC ended up 13th.
There were seven area wrestlers who were crowned individual champions as well.
West Marshall got titles from Cole Needham at 113, Kyle Blocker at 138 and Dale Hilleman at 160.
East Marshall's Zach Underhill won his third straight title as he grabbed first at 120 pounds. The Storm got an individual championship from Deonce Cushinberry at 220 pounds and AGWSR's Clay Meinders claimed the 195-pound championship.
"He had a good tournament and was ready to go today," AGWSR coach Chad Gerbracht said of Meinders.
For top-ranked Blocker, it was his third title as he improved his season mark to 44-0. Hilleman is ranked No. 5 at 160 and improved to 35-4 this season. Needham, a freshman, is now 38-5.
Sixth-ranked Devin Chesler was beaten in the semifinals by third-ranked Luke Huber of Hudson. Chesler bounced back to take third, while No. 5 Tanner Arnold finished second after losing to Class 2A No. 3 Logan Thomsen on Union.
The other top five finishes included a third-place finish from Jared Johnson at 145, fourth-place finishes by Brandon Overman at 182 and James Long at 220 as well as a fifth place tally from Christopher Sjoblom at 195.
Lux led the way for South Tama County and improved to 41-0 on the year. The Trojans also got a second-place finish from Dalton Vest at 220 and scored four third-place finishes and a fourth-place tally.
Finishing in third were Jaret Probasco (106), Kade Steuhm (126), Levi Kaufman (152) and Kolton Smith (160). Lucas Shope was fourth at 132 and Bailey Chyma was fifth at 138.
"We can live with a fifth-place finish but our goal was third," South Tama County coach Nate Van Dyk said. "We wrestled above our seed all day. We are more concerned with sectionals though. That is what it is all about."
East Marshall/GMG coach Troy Underhill was disappointed that his squad did not get more to the finals. And Zach Underhill was the only champion on the day.
"He doesn't like to keep matches going," Coach Underhill said of his son Zach. "He knew he had beaten everyone here. He just needed to stay focused."
Both Jay Reisetter and Nate Judge came into the day ranked at their respective weights, but both seniors settled for third place.
Reisetter, ranked No. 7 in Class 2A, beat Class 1A No. 4 Terry Mooty of Dike-New Hartford on Thursday night but suffered a loss in the semifinals on Saturday. Mooty was then defeated in the finals by 2A No. 2 Chase Shedenhelm of Denver-Tripoli.
"We beat that guy Thursday, but it went the other way today," Coach Underhill said of Reisetter's loss to Mooty. "Sometimes that helps you though."
Fifth-ranked Judge also suffered a loss in the semifinals that forced him into the third-place match. Judge lost to No. 2 Josh Clark of Union in overtime during the regular season and then was defeated 1-0 in the rematch. Clark wound up losing to 1A No. 1 Brandon McCracken of Aplington-Parkersburg.
"He wasn't expecting to get rode out that long, but that happens," Coach Underhill said of Judge's 1-0 loss. "We knew this one would be close though."
Steven Proffitt also was third for the Mustangs at 113, while Devin Yilek finished fourth at 152 and Max Upah was fifth at 126.
Meinders was the lone champion for AGWSR. Most of its points came from a handful of fifth-place finishes, but Miguel Reyes did take third at 120 pounds. Reyes lost to eventual runner-up Dakota Callan of Dike-New Hartford in the semifinals.
"It was a tough tournament and there is some great competition here," Gerbracht said. "I was happy with Miguel, too. He wrestled well. That was a big win for him to get the semifinals. He had an impressive day."
Cushinberry earned the top seed at 220 and rode that all the way to the finals. He jumped out to an early lead on Vest with a five-point move and then let off the gas before winning 8-6. He was warned for stalling once, and the pro-South Tama County crowd tried to get more stalling calls.
"We gave up too many points early and did not do enough to get the win," Van Dyk said. "We wrestled to our seed but we underachieved at that weight."
Tyler Lutes also reached the finals for the Storm but lost to Hilleman at 160. Luke Asche finished in fourth at 138.
"This is a tough conference," Storm co-coach Stacey Simpson said. "We feel fortunate to have done as well as we did. But this finish gives us some confidence going into sectionals."
The best finishes for GRNT-GC were from Ethan Erhardt at 113 and Omar Martinez at 132, who took fifth.
Lux will wrestle collegiately at Northern Iowa next season. ... Denver-Tripoli's Brandon Sorenson claimed the title at 145. Sorenson, top ranked in Class 2A, is one of two wrestlers in the state that will be going for their fourth state title in February. The other one is 2A No. 1 Jake Marlin of Creston/O-M. Both Sorenson and Marlin are headed to Iowa next season. ... Two of Union's four ranked wrestlers won individual titles Saturday. Max Thomsen won at 126 and Logan Thomsen claimed the 152-pound title. Austin Dengler (138), Jacob Holschlag (145) and Clark (285) all placed second. ... Meinders won the title at 195 despite placing just fourth last year at 182.